Packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, sweet northwest-grown cherries are a great addition to your diet –and may even play a role in stress relief!
Sweet cherries taste like candy and boast a slew of health benefits. From anti-inflammatory properties to potentially enhancing sleep, cherries are a nutrition powerhouse that might even help with stress.
I’m excited to share simple ways you can add sweet cherries to your day and why!
1. Cherries are a healthy fruit
Cherries are a good source of vitamin C for supporting immune health and a good source of potassium shown to help regulate blood pressure levels.
A cup of sweet dark cherries serves up about 12% of your daily fiber needs, which might help with feelings of fullness and satisfaction and blood sugar control. And if you’re like me, that last part is important for keeping hanger at bay.
Cherries have the reputation of being a fighter. Specifically, research suggests that cherries may help fight or reduce the severity of inflammatory conditions like arthritis. And studies suggest the phenolic acids found in cherries may help to relax the blood vessels and regulate blood pressure levels.
That’s all well and good, but how does stress fit in here?
2. Cherries may play a role in stress reduction
We are adapting to a new normal – which seems to change every week. From the ever-changing news, to switching up the way we work, shop, eat and spend time with family and friends, life is far from normal these days.
Those shifts can be challenging and at times a recipe for stress-filled days and sleepless nights, changes to eating habits, and even high blood pressure.
Small things – like getting regular movement, taking time out to relax, and what we eat – can make a difference. Eating well is part of self-care. And I love when foods taste good and offer extra nutrition and health benefits.
OK. But can cherries really help with stress?
The research regarding stress and sweet cherry intake is actually more focused on what’s going on at a cellular level.
This is thanks in no small part to the anthocyanins present in sweet cherries. These compounds give cherries their deep, rich color and offer the cells protection from damage. They are believed to help reduce inflammation at the cellular level to help reduce the risk of heart disease. And that activity might also help reduce the risk of certain conditions such as high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes and arthritis.
Of course, no one food is the answer to stress management. But cherries do bring plenty to the table.
- Sweet cherries are a natural source of melatonin and other plant compounds, which together might help regulate sleep cycles and mood. And sleep is critical to managing and preventing stress.
- Cherries also contain serotonin. And studies suggest that this neurotransmitter helps regulate stress and improves mood.
- And on a less technical note, cherries are just plain fun to eat! I mean. Holding it by the stem and finding a place for the pit? It’s a sweet distraction from whatever the day might bring!
Learn more about the health benefits of cherries.
3. Cherries are an easy add to meals and snacks
With a quick rinse, cherries are ready to eat in seconds. Here are a few of my favorite ways to add sweet cherries to any diet.
- Eat them fresh, as is. Cherries are a perfectly portable snack. Just rinse and eat!
- Add pitted and halved cherries to a salad. Pair them with your favorite salad greens and crunchy nuts for a balance of sweet and savory flavors.
- Top your breakfast. Add sliced cherries to your morning oats, yogurt, or nut butter toast!
- Pair them up. The delicious cherry flavor stands strong on its own and also pairs well with almonds, chocolate, and vanilla. Get creative in the kitchen with your favorite combinations!
And yes of course. Cherry pie is also an option. I didn’t forget.
This all sounds good, yes? You might be wondering when you can get the best cherries.
Short answer: Now.
When is sweet cherry season?
Fresh sweet cherries grown in the northwest are typically only available from June – early August. So, this is the time to purchase the freshest and most flavorful cherries.
TIP: Stock up now. You’ll have this healthy, stress-fighting fruit available to you all year long.
Pit and freeze cherries to use throughout the year in cobblers, smoothies and delicious cherry toppers for pancakes, waffles and more!
How to freeze fresh cherries
It’s easy to freeze fresh cherries.
- Rinse, stem and pit the cherries.
- Place the air-dried cherries in a single layer on a sheet pan small enough to fit in your freezer. Freeze for at least 4 hours – until solid.
- Transfer frozen cherries to a freezer safe bag or container. Store until ready to use!
If freezing isn’t your thing, you can also dehydrate or can fresh cherries for later. I plan to pick up a fresh batch of sweet cherries each time I shop this summer and will definitely be freezing a few bags to enjoy during the off-season!
I love using frozen cherries in smoothies and this refreshing Cherry Lime Slush!
So, I want to know. How are you enjoying sweet cherries this year?
I originally partnered with Northwest Cherry Growers on this post. The article has been updated and all content and opinions remain my own.